By January 31, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

This Country Just Made Breastfeeding Mandatory For Two Years

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Recently, the Federal National Council’s Health, Labour and Social Affairs Committee added a clause to Child Rights legislation which has mandated breastfeeding as a “duty, not an option, for able mothers”.

Committee member Sultan Al Sammahi did not explain how the government of the United Arabic Emirites will enforce the new law, but he did say that mothers who are found guilty of neglecting their duties will be punished.

The legislation, passed just last week, will mandate a two-year breastfeeding period for mothers.

Salem Al-Ameri, another committee members, explained that children being breastfed until the age of two is in the Qur’an. Al-Ameri did not, however, note that there is no punishment mentioned in the Qur’an if one does not do this.

The Federation’s Minister of Social Affairs Mariam Al Roumi said that she was concerned with the law. She raised objections which were ultimately ignored. This law, she explained, could lead to husbands even suing their wives if they failed to breastfeed for the full two years.

“This part of the law can be a burden,” she explained. “If the law forced women to breastfeed, this could lead to new court cases.”

Australian Breastfeeding Association spokeswoman Nicole Bridges said that this new law only adds to the pressure felt by women struggling to breastfeed.

“Thankfully I can’t see such a law ever being passed in Australia. Women should ultimately have control over their own bodies and have the right to decide how they will feed their babies in a way that is best for them and their families,” Bridges said.

“Breastfeeding is only one part of being a mother, but the guilt some women feel if they are struggling to successfully breastfeed their babies is already significant, and a law like this would only add to that feeling of failure.

“It has been shown that the best way to increase breastfeeding rates is to increase support to women both when they are pregnant and after the baby is born and breastfeeding is being established.

“Whether it be in the form of longer periods of maternity leave so mothers can stay home with their babies, or education about breastfeeding, support and knowledge are definitely the key.”

UAE mother of three,¬†28-year-old Maitha Al Suwaidi, said¬†“We need awareness and encouragement, not laws that oblige us. Many women have issues, like medical conditions that prevent them.”

“Others are working and only have a one-hour break to get to their child. We have circumstances that hold us back and prevent us from breastfeeding.”

What are your thoughts on this new law?

(Article by Isa Abu Jamal; image via Getty)

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